Thyroid Storm: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Thyroid Storm

There are some instances when our normal body functions don’t perform correctly. These inconsistencies within the body can lead to illnesses and disorders that we would not orderly contract. Seeking medical attention and getting treatment becomes critical to an individual’s survival.

A thyroid storm is a life-threatening disorder for people with hyperthyroidism. It is also referred to as over-active thyroid, and thyroid emergency. Thyroid storm is a rare complication of hyperthyroidism, but one that does happen and individuals should be made aware of. The thyroid gland, located in the neck is responsible for making substances known as thyroid hormones. These substances are important for the body cells to work. They are times when the thyroid produces too much of the hormone, it results in a condition known as hyperthyroidism. When the levels of the thyroid hormones become very high, it results in this condition known as thyroid storm.

Who can get it?

Any individual with hyperthyroidism can develop thyroid storm.

What causes it?

Thyroid storm usually occurs when an individual has a serious health issue along with hyperthyroidism or an individual who has untreated Graves’s disease. This problem develops after a stressful or serious illness. It also can be triggered by surgery or by using iodine for a CT scan or in radioactive iodine therapy.

How does it happen?

A thyroid storm occurs when your thyroid gland suddenly releases large amount of thyroid hormone in a small period of time. When the symptoms get worse this condition happens.

What are the symptoms?

Thyroid storm is different from hyperthyroidism in that an individual has an elevated body temperature of at least 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Their pulse rate will range between one hundred and twenty to two hundred beats per minute. Other symptoms include feeling irritable, high blood pressure, rapid heart beat, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, confusion, sleepy, yellow skin or eyes, heart failure, chest pain, increased sweating, and weakness.

How can it be diagnosed?

If an individual with hyperthyroidism experiences a fever, rapid heart beat confusion, disorientation, and experiences fatigue and exhaustion they should be taking to the hospital immediately. A complete medical history will conducted, to determine the cause of the thyroid storm. Blood tests will be done to check the individual’s blood cell count, electrolyte levels, sugar level, and thyroid hormone levels will also be tested. A liver function test will also be performed.

What treatments are available?

An individual with thyroid storm will need to get immediate attention. Without treatment an individual can fall into a coma, experience heart failure, have a stroke or it is fatal. The individual will need to take intravenous fluids and electrolytes. Since the individual has probably experienced dehydration, it will be priority to replace those fluids immediately. Oxygen if needed, the fever will be controlled with medication and cooling towels, nutritional vitamins, antibiotics, iodine to block thyroid hormone release will also be administered. In some cases the individual may need dialysis. The person will also be given mild sedatives and required to get plenty of rest. In some cases, specific drugs such as propranolol and dexamethasone will be given. The person may also be given antithyorid drugs and potassium iodine. All of this will depend on if the person is in any condition to take these drugs orally, if not they will be given intravenously. Drugs are usually given every six hours, that it why it is important that they individual is in the hospital for treatment. After treatment has been given, the individual will usually have to be monitored carefully, probably in a hospital’s intensive care unit.

Thyroid Storm is a very dangerous and serious illness. Once a patient is treated they will have to continue to meet with their doctor and monitor their thyroid condition. Thyroid storm can be prevented; once an individual knows that they have hyperthyroidism getting proper treatment is the key. They should also be able to recognize the signs of thyroid storm, this way they can seek immediate medical care. People who experience thyroid storm will know something is not right, as they will not be able to function normally. Early treatment can improve an individual’s chances of the outcome being a positive one.

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